Grad Student Series 1: How I Stay Organized
Happy Monday and welcome to my first ever graduate student series post! With the start of the New Year and with everyone starting on their resolutions, it seemed to me like a ton of my followers want advice on ways to make life simpler. So today, I’m going to be talking about all things organization, and whether you’re a grad student yourself, stay at home mom, or a high school student, staying organized is definitely key to de-stressing! For me, balancing being a medical student, brand representative at Abercrombie, and blogger requires a lot of time management, advanced planning, and tidy organization in order to keep it all straight! I’ve adopted a ton of tools to help with my crazy life, and I’m so excited to share with you all today!
The first thing I could not live without is a planner! There are so many amazing planners out there, and I’ve tried several different brands. I’ve previously loved the line by Emily Ley (they’re currently having a 20% planners deal, but most are already sold out!!), but they are pretty pricey and have a bit too much space for my liking. One of my goals this year was to spend less money, so I went with a cheaper alternative from my absolute favorite store, Anthropologie. I have always preferred the weekly style planner, but not all weekly planners are created equal! It’s important to think about how much line space you want per day, what you actually want to keep track of using your planner, and any extra features you want.
I am in love with my 2019 planner (link included) for many reasons! Each day has plenty of space to include my school work, retail shifts, and blog to-dos. It is also spiral bound, but has an extra cover to keep the spirals nice and intact (many cheap spiral planners bend, and the pages don’t turn well, which is very annoying). My planner is also very simple and chic, which I think helps mirror how I want to live my life! I use small open boxes to the left of each thing I need to do, then cross it off as I do them (this is a very “doctor” way to keep lists :P). I also write down my favorite team’s basketball schedule and write in big events I have that week. Each month has a “month at a glance” tab, but there is very little extra stuff asides from the planner pages itself. I love that because I rarely use my planner to keep track of birthdays or contact information for example.
Another tool I use daily is the reminder app on my iPhone. It is SO HANDY for literally anything. I set reminders to switch my laundry, check my work schedule, even to shower sometimes :P (anyone else bad at budgeting time to get ready? If I set a reminder when to start my shower, I’ll always have enough time to enjoy the hot water and make myself look presentable instead of rushing!). I have at least 6 reminders at all times, and you can even set a repeat schedule. For example, my phone reminds me every Friday evening to check my Abercrombie schedule because that’s when it’s finalized for the upcoming week! I also have a daily “take my birth control” reminder (I know I can’t be the only one that does this)! I prefer the reminder for this instead of an alarm because I’m almost always in the middle of something at all hours of the day. The reminders also stay on your lock screen until you do them, so it pesters you enough without being annoying to get your stuff done!
Another simple thing I do to keep track of my life is to organize my laptop desktop into folders. With everything being electronic these days (thank goodness because I hate keeping papers), I developed a super easy folder system so I can access and organize everything I need in one place. I have folders for my Abercrombie pay stubs, each year of medical school, my blog (which has further sub-folders for each blog post and photoshoots), and even for stuff for Scout! I hate the look and feel of a cluttered desktop and making sure your computer is organized is so important! Especially as a student because I am on my computer all the time. As a side note, I also am a Mac user because I find the streamlined look of Apple products so refreshing and very useful to feel like you’re leading a simple life. I have an iPhone and iPad too for easy communication between devices, which is super handy because I upload my photos from my camera onto my computer, but I edit my photos using my Lightroom app on my phone!
In case you noticed in the photo above, I have an Excel document called “Financial Tracker”. I use this document I made and designed myself EVERY DAY. I do not consider myself Excel savvy in the least, but it is an excellent (lol get it?) program to keep track of your budgeting. As I mentioned already, I am trying really hard to spend less money this year, so I need an easy and free way to follow what I’m spending. In the document, I have separate sheets for each area of my life such as my bills, life needs (i.e. groceries, gas, etc), spending (fun stuff!), and my Abercrombie paychecks. I list everything in 3 columns, one for the day I spent the money, one for where I spent the money, and one for how much it was. Then, I use the “sum” function to add up the “how much” column for a super easy way to know what your current spending is per area of life! You can see an example below. To use the “sum” function, type =SUM and then drag from the start of what you want to add to the end, and the box where you type =SUM will automatically populate with the sum of the highlighted numbers.
As a side note, I use this because I think it is super important to budget, but I don’t want to spend the money on the programs out there that keeps track itself. So I use this kind’ve “old school” method to do so! And I got the basic Microsoft programming package free through school, so that was a bonus!
I have a few other tips for you guys because I don’t think you can ever share enough ideas to simplify your life! One thing I try to do at least 4 times a year (usually at the start of a new season) is to go through all my closets and cabinets and purge anything that is trash and separate out the things I don’t use anymore. My apartment complex is awesome because I have a small storage closet in the basement of the building where I keep stuff I don’t use and am usually hoping to sell. I have two small closets, one for coats and one for linens in my apartment. My linen closet is filled with baskets and storage boxes that are each filled with a certain thing such as office supplies or gift wrapping supplies. I try to not have any of my stuff just in a closet on its own unless it’s bigger like duffel bags or actual linens. By having routine “spring cleaning” I keep what I have at any one time to a minimum. One of my biggest pet peeves is clutter, so I actually really enjoy organizing and going through my stuff! If you’re the type that dreads this, make a playlist of your current favorite songs and dancing around while you clean (I know I do this anyway because I like to be ridiculous when no one is watching :P).
I have one last side note for you all that isn’t really related lol. I am obsessed with the “volcano” scent Capri Blue candle (what Anthropologie stores always smell like), so I always have one of mine lit. Also, you all definitely need to check out Joanna Gaines’s new interior decorating book, Home Body! She has SO many amazing tips on how to use the space you have and to make it your own without breaking the bank. I am literally obsessed with this book, and I have already utilized some of her suggestions! For example, in the first photo I posted, you can see I have modern gold knobs on my dresser. My dresser came with basic white knobs, so I did a little update to make it more my style! You can find a link the the exact knobs I bought here.
Thanks for reading, and I can’t wait to continue this series! Up next, I’m going to do a feature on my new favorite footwear for work in the hospital!